Friday night saw two matches featuring teams in need of wins to aid their positions in the relegation dogfight. Both those sides got the three points they were hoping for in spectacular fashion. First, Gimnasia de Jujuy thrashed Independiente (who have now recorded four consecutive away defeats) 4-1, before Rosario Central pitched up at El Viaducto and stuck the same number past Arsenal.
In spite of the win, they remain in the direct relegation places, but it’ll surely give them some confidence to take into their next matches. In their first match under Héctor Arzubialde (Omar Labruna quit last weekend), El Lobo Jujeño struggled to take advantage of their massive superiority thanks in part to Fabián Assman in the visiting goal. That was, at least, until ten minutes before the break when former Boca centre back Matías Cahais smacked in a left-footer off the far post following a second cross from a corner.
In the second half though, Gimnasia were all over their opponents. Independiente came out pressuring high up the pitch in an attempt to grab an early equaliser, but got caught out at the other end. In the opening five minutes of the second period, Gimnasia had four shots, and the last of those, from the impressive Walter Busse, ended up in the net for 2-0. Thereafter it was a case of how many. Ricardo ‘Ricky’ Gómez, impressing on the left wing, set up the third for Mauricio Ferradas, and although Daniel Montenegro, the new key man for the selección, pulled one back with a few minutes to go, Ariel Montenegro completed the rout in stoppage time. It took a change of manager, but Gimnasia de Jujuy have finally won a match in 2009 – and how!
The standard was set, then, for Rosario Central, and the Canalla didn’t mess about in exceeding it with a 5-0 win. Mitlon Caraglio struck twice in the first half against an Arsenal side hoping to pick themselves up from that loss to Marcelo Gallardo’s two golazos last weekend. The second of those in particular was pure farce for the hosts: a long ball forward which wasn’t cleared before a game of head tennis in Arsenal’s penalty box culminated in Caraglio hitting in an overhead kick with goalkeeper Cristian Campestrini stranded.
After the interval Central sat back by and large, soaked up what little pressure Arsenal were capable of exerting, and picked their hosts off on the break. Jesús Méndez made it 3-0 with their first shot of the half in the 52nd minute, Iván Moreno y Fabianesi made it four with their second attempt of the half in the 61st, and after Caraglio had been stretchered off with what appeared to be a phenomenally vicious attack of cramp, his replacement José Vizcarra tapped in the fifth from a long ball with four minutes left.
Reinaldo Merlo’s second match in charge of Central has brought his second win, in resounding fashion. Racing must be hoping like hell this won’t prove an omen for a team so close to them, and managed by an old favourite, in the relegation battle. Central now have room to breathe – and both them and Gimnasia de Jujuy will sleep soundly tonight.